THE thanksgiving service for the life and ministry of General John Gowans (Retired) was held at the William Booth College, Denmark Hill, London on Friday 14 December 2012. Retired General John Larsson presided over a gathering of more than 500 people who came to praise God and celebrate the life of an extraordinarily gifted Salvationist leader.
General Gowans's wife, Commissioner Gisèle Gowans, and their two sons, John-Marc and Christophe Gowans, were supported by many family and friends during a powerful, poignant and challenging meeting.
General Linda Bond gave a warm, personal tribute – as did John-Marc and Christophe Gowans. Music was provided by the International Staff Band and International Staff Songsters. Commissioner Norman Howe shared a number of General Gowans's poems, reminding the congregation of the former international leader's brilliant simplicity, humour and perceptive understanding of the challenges and joys of the Christian life.
A video of General Gowans reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poem General William Booth Enters into Heaven was played on the large screen, and as his energetic and vibrant performance once again filled the hall many people were moved to tears. Even at his own funeral John Gowans challenged people with the question: 'Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?'
In his Bible message, General Larsson addressed his thoughts directly to John Gowans – his friend and former song-writing partner.
A committal service at Hither Green Crematorium was again led by General John Larsson. It included songs by Catherine Baird ('O Love, Revealed on Earth in Christ'), Albert Orsborn ('My Life Must be Christ’s Broken Bread') and concluding with a rousing rendition of 'Thine is the Glory, Risen Conquering Son'.
A fuller report was published on 17 December 2012.
Report by Major Dean Pallant